Okay, Ripley and I have to talk to you about her socks. If you ever run into us at the grocery store, you’ll see that in addition to her blue service vest, she will be sporting a pair of very spiffy baby blue argyle socks on her front feet.
These socks are the topic of much conversation. Every time we go shopping, we hear, “Oh, that is SO adorable!” Or titters of laughter. Or we overhear children saying to their parents, “Look, mom. That dog has socks on!” Sometimes, we let the comments slide by as part of the background. But often, my pride gets the best of me, and I have to respond. I turn and say, “They are so she won’t slip.” In other words, I am saying, “Really, I don’t just dress my dog up for the heck of it. These socks have a purpose.”
Here’s how it all started. One day fairly early on in our working relationship, we were in a grocery story, far back in one of the aisles. Ripley slipped on the waxed floor, and all four legs went sliding out, leaving her on her belly. I coaxed her up, and we took a few steps, but it happened again. At this point, she was trembling with anxiety. She was lying in a heap on the floor, and refused to get up. I panicked, not knowing how to reassure her, or get her out of the store. She is too big to carry at 62 pounds. Eventually, I was able to convince her to stand again, and very slowly and carefully, we made our way out of that aisle and safely to the check-out stand.
Here’s the problem: We keep Ripley’s nails trimmed back, but she has always had a very long quick. So we can only cut the nails so short without causing a bleeder. This is complicated by the fact that when she is tense in a new situation, she is a nail-walker; instead of letting her feet relax, putting her pads down, she arches her feet and hits the ground nails first. These two issues spell disaster when encountering the high-gloss floors in grocery stores and a few other establishments.
I had a pair of dog boots, but they seemed like overkill. They are tricky to put on and off, she isn’t too fond of them, and they take up a lot of space to carry around all the time. I browsed the internet looking for solutions, and hit upon dog socks. The dog socks are simple little stretchy pull-on socks. On the underneath, they have non-slip pads. They’re like the socks hospitals give out to patients. The socks come in sets of four. Initially, I put on all four, but I soon discovered that using two is adequate – front-wheel drive is enough traction, and makes getting in and out of gear (as it were) simpler. As an additional bonus, your set lasts twice as long, and you have an extra pair ready to go when one pair is in the laundry.
I found some online, but wasn’t sure about sizing, so I went to The Healdsburg Doghouse to check out their supply. The first time I went in, the only ones they had in Ripley’s size were pink argyle. Desperate, I bought them. Hey, they worked great! But I knew we couldn’t stick with pink. It was bad enough to be getting the “oh, so cute!” attention. To have them in pink was beyond embarrassing. We checked back in regularly, and soon found the baby blue argyle – whew! At least now they match her vest. And they are so small, they fit very nicely into the pockets on the side of the vest, making them always handy.
You want the socks to be snug, so they won’t fall off. Ripley ended up wearing a large. (They make them for toy dogs, so some are very tiny.) Occasionally we have an errant sock because I don’t get them on well, and I’m at the checkout stand and look down to see a bare front foot, and we have to back-track to locate the missing sock. Or a nice person says, “I found your sock.” But for the most part, they stay on really well. The socks are meant for indoor use, so don’t need to be laundered often, but they do wash nicely. Sometimes I forget she has them on. The other day, we walked through the parking lot in the pouring rain, and were in the truck, and I noticed she was sitting up in the back seat, instead of lying down as she usually does. I glanced at her, wondering what was up. Oh, gaw! She had sopping wet dog socks on. Sorry, Rippers!
Dog socks are also great for elderly dogs at home who are dealing with arthritis or stiffness if you have laminate or hardwood floors, and the dogs are beginning to have trouble getting up from a prone position. Again, you just have to remember they are not designed for outdoor use.
Even though we’ve been using them for years now, Ripley still acts completely put out when we stop at the door of the grocery store to put on her socks. I’ve become very skilled at getting them on – I brace my body against hers, and use a stay command so she stands still. But she will hold her foot up in the air for a couple of seconds, as if she can’t walk. Then, she takes that first step – and supreme confidence takes over. It’s as if she’s saying, “Oh, right! I have my socks on! Nonslip!” She prances through the store with great assurance, and I think, once again, thank goodness for dog socks.